Jonathan Toews is the best player on the Chicago Blackhawks, and he is arguably one of the three best all-around players in the NHL.
He has all the skills needed to be successful, and the Blackhawks' captain has written a brilliant script during the first seven years of his career. He has already raised the Stanley Cup twice in his career, and there's no reason to believe that he won't have that privilege several more times.
Toews, 25, and the Blackhawks have been at or near the top of the NHL's Western Conference this season and a look at Toews's statistics indicates that he is once again having another superb year. Through 42 games, he has scored 15 goals and 25 assists. He is the team's third-leading scorer behind Hart Trophy candidate Patrick Kane and explosive Patrick Sharp.
Toews is an outstanding defensive player, and he is a stud in the face-off circle. Toews is winning 57.1 percent of the draws he has taken this year, and he has a plus-16 rating. He is also the second-highest rated Corsi player on the team with a percentage of 59.6, just behind the surprising Andrew Shaw (60.0).
But it has not been all peaches and cream for Toews. He scored two goals Dec. 27 in the Blackhawks' 7-2 rout of the Colorado Avalanche, and you could see Toews figuratively wipe the sweat from his brow.
That performance helped him break a significant dry spell in the goal-scoring department. Toews had scored just one goal in his previous 15 games, and that's not a good thing.
Toews was relieved after his two-goal performance. While he had been making his usual contributions in the other areas of the game, no player is going to be thrilled when the puck is not going into the net.
"I think I'll continue that in the next little while, and it should be part of my game, to go out there with that (scoring) intent and to be a little more determined," Toews told Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune. "I don't want to say (be) selfish sometimes, but to put pucks on net more often than not."
Toews is unselfish to a fault, and he knows it. He is so intent on winning, making his linemates look good and playing a suffocating defensive game, that he sometimes lets his offense go wanting.
While he has never shown the scoring ability of top centers like Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos, Toews has been a clutch player throughout his career. He has scored big goals and made huge plays at key moments.
That was never more true than in last year's Stanley Cup Finals. The Blackhawks were in trouble in the Stanley Cup Final after dropping two of the first three games to the Boston Bruins. The Blackhawks were underdogs heading into the fourth game in Boston, and Toews knew that the Blackhawks would have to change their strategy if they were going to turn the series around.
He put it on himself and decided that he and his teammates could not avoid Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. Instead, they would have to take the play to him and find a way to defeat him.
How many goals will Jonathan Toews score this season?
Toews' plan worked out perfectly. In the final three games, he scored two goals and three assists. The Blackhawks won all three games and were able to hoist the Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons.
Head coach Joel Quenneville had no worries about Toews when he was going through his recent goal dip. Quenneville knows that while Toews is one of the best players in the NHL, he is not immune to ups and downs when it comes to goal scoring.
"He's always contributing in the team game," Quenneville told the Tribune. "Everybody has stretches where they go in the net a little easier than other times. I'm sure he'll have some stretches where it keeps going in."
Toews scored a career-high 34 goals in 2008-09, and even with his long slump, he could find a way to match or exceed that figure in the second half of the season.
If it means being a bit more "selfish" when he has the puck in the offensive zone, so be it. If Toews became a 35-goal scorer, it would only make the Blackhawks even more of a dangerous team.
That would make Quenneville and all Blackhawks fans very happy.